Sunday, June 19, 2016

An Alex Bourque Re-Branding

You'll recall that in Spring 2014, I underwent a massive re-branding of my Jaclyn Johnson series. With the help of author pal David Wood, we managed to create a distinct brand and a direction for future books in that particular series. David has it down to a science now: He has his template for me, which includes my name as well as the AGENT title du book, and he just slips the background image in depending on the city in which I'm writing. I suspect he'll have the TICKET AGENT cover for me soon.

You'll also recall that in Summer 2015, I underwent a massive re-edit of some of my books; I aptly called it the Summer of Edit. In that exercise, I took books that weren't exactly my best and spruced them up, polish-wise, getting rid of passive voice and making the books stronger. Two of those books were Cold Altar and Voir Dire, the first two stories in my Small Town PI series, set in my hometown of Fitchburg, Mass. Doing that led into the book I was about to write, Beach Blanket Bloodshed, the third book in that series.

Even though I had accomplished the Summer of Edit and felt happy with those fixes, I still had a quandary on my hands regarding the covers of the Small Town PI books. They didn't match up together, the branding non-existent. While Voir Dire's cover had actually looked something close to what you'd see on the dust jacket of a New York-published hardcover, Cold Altar's cover... wasn't. It was pretty bland: I recall it was actually hard to manipulate the image enough in order for me to do what I had to do to get my name on the thing.

The original two covers. Not exactly a match. This was on account of me not exactly knowing what to do; I had branding in mind, but I also had getting the book out at any cost in mind, too.

So when I wrote Beach Blanket Bloodshed last August, I had this quandary in mind as I let my fingers fly: How would I fix this re-branding issue, knowing I had already re-branded Jaclyn (and saw a nice sales bump in exchange) and had to create three new covers and make them all the same once I had BBB ready for publishing. I also realized I couldn't exactly break the bank on this, either. I had to do it on the cheap, but couldn't make them look cheap.

I went through a couple of drafts on these covers, but with the help of author pal Elizabeth Ann West, I managed to concoct a simple cover which conveys the overall arc of these stories: they are campy mysteries that aren't supposed to strain one's mind, but they needed the edge of my Jaclyn thrillers in order for me to see a return. Cold Altar is a good first story: it introduces the characters of Alex Bourque and his girlfriend, Lauryn Kennedy, but like I said, you're not supposed to strain your brain in finding out who the killer is with this book. Voir Dire follows it up nicely. Beach Blanket Bloodshed gives a new wrinkle in their relationship, and is a solid beach read for Summer 2016. In fact, all three are.

As a result, we've come up with these new covers:

Not too bad, if I say so myself, and better than some New York-published novels. Everything is tied together, the branding the same. We've uploaded these covers to their respective placements across all platforms (We ran into a problem with Voir Dire on Nook; Nook users can go to Smashwords to get the epub file; it's in my bookstore on my website).

Expect a newsletter to announce Beach Blanket Bloodshed's release soon; sign up for the mailing list at the top of the blog to be among the first to know of its availability!

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